Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How to cope without British TV and Radio: Cricket Supplement Update II

Mark writes:

See previous posts in this series, How to cope without British TV and Radio: Cricket Supplement and How to cope without British TV and Radio: Cricket Supplement Update.

The Ashes Urn
The Ashes
As all British readers will know, the Ashes is here again. "The Ashes" is the name given for any test series involving England and Australia, where "test series" means a series of Test Matches. A "test match" is a five day international cricket match. There was great excitement last time around, when England beat Australia in England in the summer 2005, the first time we had done so since 1987. And the series was thought by many to be one of the best test series ever. Now England are in Australia and Australia are all set to win the Ashes back. With one test down, Australia are already one-nil up. The second test begins on Friday and England are going to have to raise their game if they're to stand a chance.

Watching overseas tests in America presents some serious challenges, greater even than the home tests during the summer, although this time we have not had our lawn dug up or holes put in our roof. To watch this series on TV, you have to have the satellite service DirecTV. There is no other way of doing it. You can't pick it up on Dish Network, nor can you get it on your cable package, even for subscription. So if you don't have DirecTV, your only option is to go for the Broadband coverage on your PC via Willow TV. This costs $99.95 for the whole series. I've been reticent to make the purchase this time, especially as the fourth test and most of the fifth test will be on when we are in the UK for Christmas. Also, the direct streaming is pretty good but it is not brilliant, and for cricket you really do need a good picture. I may still succumb at a later point, especially if England start playing a bit better, but for the time being I am managing without.

So without any TV coverage, how does one cope? One of the most disappointing things is that there is no BBC Test Match Special coverage available to international users. It is only available to UK users. This is a real nuisance. To be honest, I miss TMS so much that I have looked around to find alternative, unofficial means of picking up the Radio 4 LW stream, or the FiveLive SportsExtra stream. Happily, there are ways of doing this if one is prepared to spend a bit of time messing about on the net. Unhappily, the Radio 4 LW stream is not always accessible. When that happens, I can usually get the ABC Australian commentary, which is not at all bad, and features Jonathan Agnew, who is good enough to say the score Aussie style (1 for, 2 for etc.).

One great new innovation this season, though, is the Test Match Special Podcast. This is 17 minutes or so of Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott chatting about the day's play. If you are into downloading podcasts, this is a great new thing, and I hope it will appear again next season for the home tests.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We're very excited about the Ashes here in England despite the disaster in the first test. I awoke at 4.50am this morning, had a quick burst of radio 4 longwave to hear England were 56 for 2 at which point Nicola asked me the score and we both then said, 'oh no, here we go again' and went back to sleep. By the time we awoke again at 7.30am we were heartily relieved to hear that we had progressed to 260 or so for 3 and I am now totally convinced that we will definitely retain the Ashes.

Nick - the undying optimist!